Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Marrying off a Minor Daughter

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The Gemora (Kiddushin 51) challenges Rava from the following Mishna: If one marries off his daughter to a man, but he does not specify which daughter he is giving, the adult daughters are not included (for the father has no authority over them). It can be inferred from here that his minor daughters are included (and they all would require a get). But why should this be? It is a case where the marriage does not have the possibility of cohabitation. This is a refutation of Rava (for he holds that such types of kiddushin are not effective)!?

Rava answers: the Mishna is dealing with a case where he only had one adult daughter and one minor daughter (the key point being that there was only one minor daughter, for she is the only one that the father could have married off).

The Gemora asks: What then is the novelty of this Mishna?

The Gemora answers: The Mishna is referring to a case where the adult daughter appointed her father as her agent to accept kiddushin for her. You might have thought, that in this case, the father is accepting kiddushin for his adult daughter. The Mishna teaches us that the father would not leave something from which he would derive benefit (the kiddushin money that he receives for marrying off his minor daughter).

The Gemora asks: Are we not referring to a case where the adult daughter told the father that he can keep the kiddushin money?

The Gemora answers: The father would not leave a mitzvah that he is obligated to perform (marrying off his minor daughter) and perform a mitzvah that is not his obligation (accepting kiddushin for his adult daughter).

The Ritva asks: How can the Gemora say that it is a mitzvah for a father to give his minor daughter in kiddushin? Did we not learn before (41a) that it is forbidden for a man to marry off his minor daughter until she is mature enough to say that she wants to be married to a certain man?

He answers: That Gemora is referring to a case where there is a concern that she will not desire that specific man, and eventually, she will perform mi’un. (A girl whose father had died could be given in marriage while still a minor (under the age of twelve) by her mother or older brother. This marriage is only valid Rabbinically. As long as she has not attained the age of twelve, she may nullify the marriage by refusing to live with her husband. This act of refusal, referred to as mi’un nullifies the marriage retroactively.). However, in cases where there is no such concern, the father certainly has a mitzvah to marry her off.

Alternatively, he answers that our Gemora can be referring to a na’arah, who already is mature enough, but nevertheless, the father can marry her off, and he has a mitzvah to do so.